This is a variation on the Kouign-Amann (roughly pronounced “queen ah-marn”) I posted ages ago. This time I went for apple and cinnamon flavour which works so well with the caramelised sugar, giving a kind of tarte tatin – but a touch more indulgent!
I have made the apple and cinnamon Kouign-Amann before, using a little bit of fresh cooking apple for a slight tartness, but the fresh apples can make the baked pastries a little soggy in the centre. Instead, use a little bit of dried apple: as the pastries bake, they take on some of the moisture and soften up, but still give a nice sharpness inside: and I deft anyone to resist the combination of sharpness from the apple, the sweetness of the caramelised sugar and the rich butteryness of the pastry.
Essentially these very fine pastries use a croissant dough, with sugar incorporated to the layers towards the end of making the dough: the sugar caramelises as the pastries bake, resulting in a light, crisp, buttery pastry with that addictive caramelised flavour.
I always mix a little salt with the sugar at the final rolling out stage: the slight salty flavour is phenomenal with the sugar (think salted caramel!)
The sacrilege of a filling!
Traditionally Kouign-Amann do not have fillings, and to be honest there is so much pleasure to be had out of a Kouign-Amann that has no filling or added flavours/glazes. But I do love contrasting, but complementary flavours in bakes, and it is fun having hidden surprises within a bake.
Other favourite variations of mine include:
- ginger Kouign-Amann: with a little thinly sliced and chopped stem ginger in the centre and a sticky ginger syrup glaze
- rum and pineapple Kouign-Amann: a little dried pineapple in the centre and a glaze made with dark rum and sugar syrup
A fairly simple but wonderful pastry
I have gone for the easier version, which is more forgiving and less daunting if you have never made croissants before, and gives terrific results. Think more along the lines of a quick rough-puff pastry approach.
For even flakier pastries you can instead go for the more traditional route as for croissants but to be honest this short-cut approach for Kouign-Amann works wonderfully.
Tins or rings?
These can be baked in small buttered rings or buttered deep muffin tins. Either way, as an extra precaution to prevent the bases burning, you can pop a small piece of greaseproof at the base of each ring or muffin tin hole.
You can even put several of them in one large cake tin if preferred, for a kind of tear-and-share treat, as described below the recipe.
Apple & Cinnamon Kouign-Amann (makes 16 individual ones)
- 300g strong plain flour
- 25g caster sugar
- 1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 7g fine sea salt
- 7g easy-blend yeast
- 190ml-210ml water
- 210g fairly firm unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Spiced sugar mixture:
- 50g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- a few slices of dried apples, roughly chopped
To glaze (optional)
- 60ml water
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
(1) For the dough, mix the flour, salt, yeast, cinnamon and caster sugar in a bowl and stir to incorporate. Stir in the chunks of butter and most of the water. Stir gently until it forms a soft dough, adding more water if necessary, taking care not to break up the butter too much.
(2) Cover with clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for up to a couple of hours: it will rise a little during this time, which kick-starts flavour development, but the chilling ensures the dough is firm enough to roll out easily. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat the air out of the dough.
(3) Roll out to a rectangle about 15cm by 45cm, or a bit larger. To be honest you can simply roll it out to a long and thin rectangle. Lift the bottom third into the centre and then the top third over this. Give the dough a quarter turn and then repeat this process: this is now 2 turns completed. If the dough is resisting at all when you roll it out a second time, or if the butter seems to be softening too much, chill the dough for 30 minutes or so.
(4) Cover with clingfilm and chill for several hours or overnight: this is important for flavour development, as well as for relaxing the dough which makes it easier to roll out.
(5) For the spiced sugar mixture, mix the sugar, cinnamon and salt together. Rotate and roll out the dough again, and sprinkle over most of the sugar mixture. Fold as before.
(6) Roll out the dough fairly thinly and trim the edges to form a square a little more than 32m by 32cm. If you find the sugar is making the dough layers slide, making it harder to roll out, place the dough in the fridge for about 15 minutes: a bit of the sugar will start to dissolve just enough to help it roll out. NB: don’t chill it too long, otherwise the sugar will melt too much and you get a very sticky dough.
(7) Sprinkle half of the remaining sugar mixture on top of the dough. Carefully flip the dough over and sprinkle the rest of the sugar mixture over: this will give you a good level of caramelisation while they bake.
(8) Cut into squares about 8cm by 8cm and place some of the apple on top. Gently pinch together the opposite corners of each and push these carefully into the buttered tins: see Tins or rings? above. Cover and leave to rise at coolish room temperature for an hour or two until puffy.
(9) Towards the end of the proving, preheated the oven to 200C(fan). When the oven is at temperature, pop the tins in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 180C (fan). Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the tops are a very deep golden.
(10) If you want a glaze, heat the water, sugar and cinnamon gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until it reduces and goes a little syrupy.
(11) Carefully remove the Kouign-Amanns from the tins while they are still hot (if you leave them to cool in the tin they will stick) and place them onto a cooling rack. Brush the syrup liberally over each hot Kouign-Amann, if using. Leave to cool and devour without any shame whatsoever!